5 Ways the Bible and Koran Aren't So Different

The holy books of both Christianity and Islam are more similar than we realize. While the grand narratives around both religions have unfortunately been wrapped up in a “clash of civilizations” hypothesis, at least in contemporary times, it has not always been that way. While it is true that both religions and the respective traditions have points of differences, I believe the similarities outweigh the differences. Here's why:

1. Narratives of creation (Adam and Eve):


The Bible as well as the Koran say that Adam and Eve were created by God in his image, from dust. This is evident in several verses of the Koran: ”The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: 'Be.' And he was." (3:59).

A similar narrative exists in the Book of Genesis: "And he said, "Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." ( 3:22)

2. The day of judgment:


The narrative surrounding how the world will end, the resurrection of mankind, and return of Jesus are strikingly similar in both the scriptures.

For example, Koran: ”The Sun is to be folded up will lose its light.” (81: 1-29) The biblical narrative is similar, as illustrated here: “Immediately after the oppression of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the earth shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet.” (Matthew 24:29–31)

3. Prophets and angels:


There is a common belief in the status of prophets as inspired people, who received divine guidance. As is the belief about angels.

4. Focus on compassion and mercy:


Both scriptures focus on mercy, compassion as being a  virtue that we should all strive for. For example, Koran: "Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!” (41:34) 

A similar strand runs through the Bible: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

5. Focus on charity:


Charity is one of the five pillars of Islam and is repeatedly stressed as a virtue. The Bible also lays a great stress on giving and helping the needy. For example: "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

The Koran points out: "You shall give the due alms to the relatives, the needy, the poor, and the travelling alien, but do not be excessive, extravagant.” (17: 26-29)

While no means being an exhaustive account, nor a very thorough analysis of the verses or the context in which they were revealed (very important in the study of both religions), nevertheless they do offer a glimpse of what both the scriptures say about foundational issues of both the faiths. Being derivatives of the “Abrahamic tradition,” one can confidently say that they have more similarities than differences and it is about time we focus on that, rather than look for areas of divergence.

Our world, which is becoming more diverse by the day, needs better religious literacy. As Dr. Diana Eck of Harvard University has said, we need a serious study of religion as essential equipment for the age of pluralism we are in.

I invite you on this journey! 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a social entrepreneur, researcher and founder of MENASA, a think-tank and policy shop engaged in issues related to MENA and South Asia. Sabith has worked for several years in the field of strategic communications, public affairs and nonprofit management, trying to understand and communicate issues pertaining to civil society, development and youth in the US and MENA region. Sabith has worked with several large global public affairs firms, on award-winning campaigns in healthcare, entertainment and government relations. During his stint at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, he ideated and executed a global award-winning campaign for Apollo Hospitals (Abby and Clio Awards). He has also worked in the Middle East managing accounts as diverse as Dubai Film Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai School of Government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Muslim Public Service Network in Washington D.C, an NGO that engages and inspires young American Muslims to do public service. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech. He has been involved as a team member and leader in several international development projects including consulting for the Near East Foundation, in helping set up their Monitoring and Evaluation system for their offices across the MENA region. Sabith has a Master of Public administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. In Summer 2013, he conducted research on American Muslim philanthropy at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, in an attempt to map giving behavior among Muslims over the last ten years i.e., 2002- 2012. Sabith’s research interests include Religion and Philanthropy, Youth issues in USA, Middle East North Africa and South Asia, Governance and Civil Society. Sabith is also the co-editor of Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st century, a snapshot of the ideas and opinions of the global Millennial Generation. Twenty writers from five continents, a diverse mix of young academics, policy professionals, and future thought and creative leaders, cover topics from the legacy of the Arab Spring, the global food system, the U.S. student loan crisis, youth unemployment, to popular culture. Currently working: Founder and Executive Director, MENASA Publications: 1. Humanitarian Aid and Faith-Based Giving: The Potential of Muslim Charity - Unrest Magazine, George Mason University. May 2013. Accessible at http://www.unrestmag.com/about-unrest/past-issues/#sthash.GEqNfv0U.dpuf 2. Arab American Diaspora and American Muslim Philanthropy: impact of crisis situations on mobilization and formation of a “community.” American University in Cairo Press. Cairo. (NP). Expected Fall 2013. 3. Middle-East Peace Talks 2010: Investigating the Role of Lobbying and Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C. as Spoilers. Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Spring 2011. Accessible at : http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc/Research/intrastate/Spoilers_of_Peace_Project/ Blog: www.sabithkhan.wordpress.com

MORE FROM

Know who’s really winning ‘Game of Thrones’ this season? The show’s editing team

Props to Crispin Green and Tim Porter for episodes one and two, respectively. Y'all are some gross monsters.

TJ Miller’s explanation of the “feminist agenda” in ‘The Emoji Movie’ proves the bar is too low

How feminist can a movie with no female writers really be?

On Lana Del Rey’s lust for social consciousness

For her latest studio full-length, LDR proves there's more to her than the flower-crown aesthetic.

‘Game of Thrones’ Theories: Arya and Nymeria finally reunited, but what does it mean?

So, is Arya actually heading back to Winterfell?

‘Game of Thrones’: So Samwell Tarly is basically George R.R. Martin, right?

Finally, Jon Snow's sidekick has a greater purpose.

‘Game of Thrones’: Everyone's true nature is exposed in "Stormborn"

WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU, THEON!

Know who’s really winning ‘Game of Thrones’ this season? The show’s editing team

Props to Crispin Green and Tim Porter for episodes one and two, respectively. Y'all are some gross monsters.

TJ Miller’s explanation of the “feminist agenda” in ‘The Emoji Movie’ proves the bar is too low

How feminist can a movie with no female writers really be?

On Lana Del Rey’s lust for social consciousness

For her latest studio full-length, LDR proves there's more to her than the flower-crown aesthetic.

‘Game of Thrones’ Theories: Arya and Nymeria finally reunited, but what does it mean?

So, is Arya actually heading back to Winterfell?

‘Game of Thrones’: So Samwell Tarly is basically George R.R. Martin, right?

Finally, Jon Snow's sidekick has a greater purpose.

‘Game of Thrones’: Everyone's true nature is exposed in "Stormborn"

WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU, THEON!